Gregory of Tours°

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GREGORY OF TOURS°

GREGORY OF TOURS ° (Georgius Florentius ; 538–594), bishop of Tours from 573. Most of the information on the Jews in Merovingian France during the second half of the sixth century comes from Gregory. He was present at – and later participated – in the disputation held between King Chilperic and the Jew *Priscus in 581, which he describes in his Historia Francorum. This same work contains a report on the forced conversion of Jews in *Clermont-Ferrand in 576 and Chilperic's forcible attempt to impose conversion throughout his whole kingdom in 582. Gregory is also the source testifying to the ancient presence of Jews in Tours, Marseilles, Orléans, Bourges, and other places. His works contain invaluable information on the economic and social conditions of the Jews. The manner in which he often introduces Jews into his tales of miracles is curious: their function is in a sense a guarantee to the authenticity of his narrative. It was Gregory who introduced into the West two legends of Oriental origin, concerning "the Jewish child of the blazing furnace" (who had taken communion and been punished by his father, but saved by the virgin Mary) and the desecrated icon (a painting representing Jesus, lacerated by the Jews, which had supposedly begun to bleed); these two legends are of grave significance because one was the distant source of the *blood libel and the other of the *Host desecration accusation.

bibliography:

B. Blumenkranz, Auteurs chrétiens latins (1963), 67–73; idem, Juifs et chrétiens… (1960), index; F. Cayre, Patrologie (1945), 264–67.

[Bernhard Blumenkranz]

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